Tuesday 2021-09-21

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GOVT SENDS SOS TO WHO

By Phephile Motau | 2021-01-14

Mbabane- AS the country continues to record high volumes of positive COVID-19 cases and deaths, Minister of Health Lizzie Nkosi has submitted a request to Emergency Medical Teams (EMTs) from the World Health Organisation to come and land a hand.

EMTs, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO) website, are groups of health professionals (doctors, nurses, paramedics etc.) that treat patients affected by an emergency or disaster.

They come from governments, charities (NGOs), militaries and international organisations such as the International Red Cross/Red Crescent movement.

They work to comply with the classification and minimum standards set by WHO and its partners, and come trained and self-sufficient so as not to burden the national system.

The request for the teams by Nkosi was also posted on the website and further confirmed by the minister.

It was stated that the country needed a COVID-19 specialised care team, comprising a team leader, critical care physicians, critical care nurses and biomedical technicians.

The requested initial duration of the mission is four weeks, but the EMT Secretariat welcomed offers from teams for shorter periods and a rotational basiswith another team or teams.

The request posted by the Emergency Medical Teams Secretariat further states that Eswatini was experiencing rapid rise in the number of cases and deaths for the past three weeks, with the daily number of positive cases being above 160 compared to less than 20 a month ago.

“The country now has 11 COVID-19 treatment centres, nine public and two private with a total bed capacity of 437.

“Bed occupancy rate is rising every week. The country has 29 beds for critical care with all 29 occupied, giving an occupancy rate of 100,” the request reads.

It was stated that there was an additional 26 critical care beds available, but they were not utilised due limited oxygen supply and inadequate critical care physicians and nurses.

The request further states that the scarcity of biomedical engineers to support installation and maintenance of critical care equipment remained a challenge.

“Staff are requested from EMT organisations who have completed or are in process of completing the WHO EMT classification.

“This response requires EMT teams capable of integrating within existing health structures and working in support of the national health system.

Additional information regarding the details of deployment will be provided to EMTs that submit their expressions of interest,” the request reads.

Deployment It was further stated that deployment of Emergency Medical Teams was subject to approval by the ministry of health of Eswatini.

“Once in the field, the coordination of EMT activities is led by the ministry of health and supported by WHO. Teams are expected to be able to comply with the minimum standards of being a deployable EMT.

The ministry of health is ready to provide necessary logistical support, however, teams are expected to be self-sufficient as required by the minimum standards,” the request reads. Nkosi confirmed that the country had requested for EMTs and said previously, they got four doctors from Taiwan and others from Cuba.

She said this time around, they had requested the assistance of the WHO as the situation was dire than the first wave.

Nkosi said the doctors would be paid by the WHO and the country would only pay for their lodgings, transport and other relevant expenses.

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